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CCPA vs. GDPR: What are the differences and similarities?

May 11, 2022

Across the world, data privacy continues to become a priority for consumers and businesses alike. Legal frameworks are created to ensure that innovation and technology are handled responsibly, especially when it comes to collecting, selling, or storing consumer data. 

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are two such frameworks aimed at protecting personal information and online data. In this article, we’ll take a closer look to help you identify the similarities and differences between two important regulations. 

What is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)?

The California Consumer Privacy Act is state legislation created in 2018 which gives California residents new rights pertaining to data privacy. New privacy rights for California residents include:

  • ‍The right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and how it is used and shared
  • ‍The right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions)
  • ‍The right to opt out of the sale of their personal information
  • ‍The right to non-discrimination for exercising their CCPA rights

Before CCPA, California consumers had less control over their personal data once a business collected it. Oftentimes, consumers were forced to waive their rights to data ownership by signing a contract before using a product.

Public, non-profit entities are exempt from complying with CCPA. Any for-profit entity that does business with California residents and meets one of the below parameters must comply with CCPA:

  • Have a gross annual revenue of over $25 million
  • Buy, receive, or sell the personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, households, or devices
  • Derive 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling California residents’ personal information

What is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a piece of legislation created by the European Union (EU) that mandates data privacy guidelines for EU citizens. Established in 2018, GDPR regulates the collection, processing, consent, and distribution of personal information. GDPR grants data privacy rights to all EU citizens, which include: 

  • The right to be informed
  • The right of access
  • The right to rectification
  • The right to erasure
  • The right to restrict processing
  • The right to data portability
  • The right to object
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

GDPR is considered one of the most strict regulations because of its specificity around processing data and hefty fines for failing to comply. GDPR applies to any entity, regardless of geographical location, that offers goods or services to EU citizens or residents. This means that anyone who hosts a website that collects data from EU visitors must comply with GDPR. 

What are the similarities between CCPA vs. GDPR?

GDPR was the first data privacy law to give consumers rights regarding their personal information. CCPA was largely influenced by GDPR which is why many of the regulations and protocols have similarities. 

The primary similarity between CCPA and GDPR is intent. They both exist to protect data privacy and personal information of real people, not just corporate entities. Examples of personal data protected by both regulations include name and date of birth, locational information, IP address, cookie identifiers, and much more. 

CCPA and GDPR both apply to organizations across the globe even though they protect an isolated population of people. Maintaining a secure data inventory, responding to consumer requests, and disclosing a data privacy policy are required by both GDPR and CCPA. 

What are the differences between CCPA vs. GDPR?

CCPA and GDPR have similar aims, but they stand as separate regulations, each with its own compliance standards and definitions. The primary differences between CCPA and GDPR pertain to who and what is protected, who must comply, and the repercussions for not complying. 

CCPA safeguards personal data of California residents, as well as their households, while GDPR protects EU citizens, otherwise defined as “data subjects.” GDPR requires entities to obtain consent with an “opt in” option before collecting data, but the CCPA enforces the option to “opt out” with a specific mandate to include a “Do Not Sell My Info” link on a business’s website. 

GDPR closely monitors the automated processing of data and only allows profile-creating algorithms under specific legal circumstances. Automation is not specifically regulated under CCPA.  

The fine for violating GDPR can reach as high as €20 million, or 4% of the company’s annual revenue from the previous year—whichever is higher. Fines for violating the CCPA include payments to consumers in addition to regulating bodies. Fines include $2,500 for unknown per unknown violation, $7,500 per intentional violation, and $100 to $750 to each consumer affected in a breach. 

CCPA and GDPR: Why you need both

If a business complies with CCPA vs. GDPR, it doesn’t absolve them of not complying with the other. Businesses that already comply with GDPR, but do business with California residents, will still have to comply with CCPA obligations despite any overlap. Similarly, businesses that already comply with CCPA, but wish to do business with EU citizens will need to ensure compliance with GDPR. 

Many of the differences between GDPR and CCPA are simply a matter of language making it more important for businesses to understand each regulation in-depth. For example, CCPA regulates “for-profit businesses,” while GDPR applies to “data controllers and processors”.  CCPA protects “personal information,” while GDPR protects “personal data.” Despite the overlap in security protection with both standards, there is a good chance your business needs to comply with both CCPA and GDPR.

Learn more about CCPA and GDPR

What is the CCPA and how will it affect your company?
Your GDPR compliance checklist
Your game plan for getting GDPR compliant